Though his dishes once occupied the white-linen tablecloths of Philadelphia’s finest restaurants, Chef Gerald Dougherty now prefers making napkins messy with his signature recipes of rich, meaty barbecue fare. The former head chef of L'Aigla D'Or and Founders at the Bellevue, Chef Gerald currently oversees the pit at Little Louie's BBQ, a casual eatery he opened to satisfy his hankering for down-home grub. Not one to color within the lines, he draws on barbecue styles from across the country—think North Carolina, Kansas City, and Memphis—and smokes his meats over cherrywood, applewood, and hickory chips.
Little Louie’s dining room betrays the same down-home inspirations as its menu. Rustic lumber lines the countertops, and light fixtures reminiscent of branches illuminate the expansive space. If they can peel their eyes away from the beef brisket and pulled pork on their plates, guests will notice Butch Cassidy and Lone Ranger posters hanging from the walls, classic Western movies playing on the 70-inch flat-screen television, and outlaws discreetly taking down Wanted signs that bear their uncanny resemblances.
Indian cuisine made with seasonal ingredients and an American flair.
When to Go: Swing by on a Thursday night if you fancy live sitar and tabla music, but go any other night if you prefer humming your own tunes while you chew.
Inside Tip: The restaurant is BYOB, so pick up your favorite bottle of wine or six-pack of beer before dinner.
Chaat: savory Indian snack food made of potatoes, fried bread, and a spice medley that typically includes dried mango powder, cumin seeds, and black salt.
Paneer: a fresh cheese made from boiling cow's milk or water buffalo's milk and curdling it with whey—the dish dates back to at least 6,000 BC.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Test your crafting skills at All Fired Up (602 Haddon Avenue), a studio devoted to paint-your-own pottery.
After: See what's happening at the Scottish Rite Auditorium (315 White Horse Pike), a historic 1930s venue that hosts musical acts and theater performances.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: If you're in Philly for the evening, head to Indeblue's sister location (205 S. 13th Street).
For more than 35 years, Sea-Lect Seafood has curated an ample selection of fresh wild Alaskan salmon, sushi-grade tuna, wild-caught shrimp, and other sea-caught treasures. Each day, the staff crowds a case with crab cakes and prepares other foods—homemade soups and creamy chowders—to be savored at home. At the Maple Shade location, chefs craft hot dishes for diners who devour steaming meals in the cozy dining space rather than at home to avoid offending the family goldfish. Owner George Gladden first started working at Sea-Lect Seafood at the age of 15 as a dishwasher, then climbed his way to the top through his love of cooking fresh seafood, desire to please customers, and ability to speak lobster.
At Osaka, your food might emerge from any of three locales. The first is the sushi bar, where chefs assemble creative maki rolls or drape slices of tuna, salmon, or striped bass over small mounds of sticky rice. Then there's the kitchen, where a separate crew fires up the grill to create sizzling entr?es of tofu, salmon, and chicken teriyaki. And speaking of grills, perhaps the most popular options here can be found at the hibachi tables. Seated around hot teppanyaki grills, guests watch as chefs prepare their meals right before their eyes, slicing and searing meats and doling out the exact amount of rice grains each person prefers.
With outposts in Moorestown, Voorhees, and Collingswood, Akira is one of New Jersey's go-to spots for sushi, noodles, and grilled hibachi meals. Chefs behind the sushi bar expertly assemble rice, fresh fish, and vegetables into maki rolls and hand rolls, while their counterparts behind the hibachi grill put on a performance for diners by searing meats and seafood. The hibachi side of the restaurant gets lively with conversation and jumping flames, making it a festive venue for group dinners and pyromancer parties.
At Sapori Trattoria Italiana, Chef Franco Lombardo celebrates the flavors of his native Italy, and every inch of his restaurant reflects his vision for an authentic trattoria: he designed the dining room himself, from its stone walls to its wrought-iron balconies. Within this rustic, terra-cotta-hued space, Chef Lombardo plates traditional Northern and Southern Italian cuisine. If diners choose to partake in a “tasting dinner,” they’ll be treated to a visit from the chef himself, who’ll examine the shape of each diner’s taste buds and then tailor a five-course menu to suit them. Otherwise, diners can choose from an ample menu of pastas, seared meats, and sautéed seafood enhanced with fresh, all-natural ingredients—the veal is grass-fed, the seafood is never frozen, and pastas are rolled from scratch.